Azure App Registration vs Enterprise App – What’s the Difference ?

Azure App Registration vs Enterprise App – What’s the Difference ? It is frequently discussed how an enterprise application and Azure app registration are not completely clear. In some cases, people even use both terms interchangeably. But, App registration is simply the actual application object where you configure application settings. Whereas Enterprise Application is a representation of the application within a directory.

However, it gets confusing because a user grants consent from both the Enterprise Applications blade and the App Registrations experience in the Azure Portal. Therefore, we will carefully study each topic on its own before highlighting the differences between them. So that after reading this article, you will have the answers you need. 

Shall we start with Azure App Registration vs Enterprise App – What’s the Difference ?

What is Azure Application Registration?

Firstly, App registration is a way to reserve an application in AAD (Azure Active Directory). Hence, Azure communicates with the application and send tokens to it thanks to registration. If you want to integrate an application with Azure, you must register it in the App Registration experience.

The App Registration experience allows you to configure the Redirect URI, the address to which the authorization server directs the user after you have successfully authorized the app. The logout URL, the address to which your users will be directed after they have logged out; API access (if necessary), and custom app roles for granting access to users or other apps.

Azure AD gives your application a special Application ID when you register it. Additionally, it also gives you the option to add features like credentials, permissions/roles, and sign on. Specific users might also have limited access. This is possible by changing the default settings, which by default only permits users from the domain in which you registered your app to sign in.

However, it is necessary to register each application you want the Microsoft identity platform to conduct identity and access management (IAM). Whether a client application, such as a web or mobile app, or a web API that supports a client app, registering it creates a trust connection between your application and Microsoft’s identity platform.

More about Azure App Registration

ISVs (Independent Software Vendors) who wish to develop external client applications to read and write data in Dataverse often register applications in Azure Active Directory. When end users utilize the ISV’s Application for the first time and log in to their Dataverse environment using their Dataverse credentials, an end user permission form displays.

Then the end users connects to the Dataverse environment from an external application after accepting to connect their Dataverse account with the ISV’s Application. After the first user has consented to use the ISV’s app, the consent form doesn’t display to subsequent users. 

It’s important to note that applications registered in Azure Active Directory are multi tenanted. This means that other Dataverse users from other tenants connect to their environment using the ISV’s app. A user or application developer developing a client application to connect to and read/write data in Dataverse also register an application. 

Furthermore, you can utilize the Application ID and Redirect URI values from your registered app in the authentication code of your client application to connect to the Dataverse environment and complete the appropriate actions. If you register your client application in the same tenant as your Dataverse environment, you won’t view a consent form while connecting from it to the environment.

Features of Azure Application Registration

  • Depending on the use case, you can utilize Azure application registration for single tenant or multi tenant reasons. However, it only exists in one directory, also known as its home directory.
  • Two types of objects form when the application registration finishes. First is the Application Object, which you see under App Registrations in Azure AD. Using this object as a template, you may configure various things like App Roles, Client Secrets, and API Permissions
  • The Service Principal Object is the second, and you can find it in AAD’s Enterprise Registration blade. In the Enterprise Registration blade of AAD, each Application Object created via the Azure Portal, the Microsoft Graph APIs, or the AzureAD PS Module would produce a corresponding Service Principal Object. An application object gives rise to a concrete instance called a service principal. A service principal inherits specific properties from the original object.
  • App owners manage all aspects of their registered Applications. It is important to review the ownership of all applications in the organization regularly. However, application ownership should be kept to a minimal set of people within the organization.

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How to Create an Application Registration

  1. Use an administrator permitted account to log into the Azure portal. You must use an account from the same Microsoft 365 tenant when registering the app. By opening the Admin centres, item in the left navigation panel and choosing Azure Active Directory, you may also access the Azure portal from the Microsoft 365 admin center.

2. Afterward, go to the Azure portal. Then choose Azure Active Directory from the left hand menu, click on App registrations, then New registration. Enter the following information on the Register an application page to register your application:

  • Enter a comprehensive application name that will be visible to users in the Name section.
  • From the section titled Supported account types, choose Accounts in any organizational directory.
  • To create the application, select Register and then enter the Redirect URI.

3. Hover your cursor over the application (client) ID value on the app Overview page. Then click the Copy to clipboard icon to copy the value. You’ll need to specify this in the right place in your application’s authentication code or app.config file.

4. Select the Manifest tab in the manifest editor, set the allow “Public Client* property” to true, and click on Save. Then select the API permissions tab, and click on “Add a permission.”

5. Then search for and choose Dataverse under the “APIs my organization uses” tab. If you don’t find “Dataverse”, search for “Common Data Service“. However, note that if you encounter more than one Common Data Service item in the search list, you can choose any of them.

6. The service name and URL will now be displayed. And if necessary, you may return to the API search and select a different Dataverse list item. Next, click on “Delegated permissions,” check the options and click on “Add permissions”. This then completes the registration of your Application in Azure Active Directory.

Up next with Azure App Registration vs Enterprise App – What’s the Difference ? is time to learn about Enterprise Application.

What is an Enterprise Application?

Applications published by other organizations and available for usage within your organization are referred to as enterprise applications. They are listed in the Azure Active Directory gallery. For instance, you integrate an application from the Enterprise Applications option in the applications blade if you wish to manage SSO within your company and use Facebook or Microsoft Teams as an example. The Enterprise Apps blade will also display Service Principals, which are instantiations of your registered applications in the tenant for your applications that you have registered.

Features of Enterprise Application

  • Assigned users can log in to the application via the User access URL, the My Apps portal, or by going directly to the application URL, if this option is set to Yes. Only users who have been assigned to the application may sign in if an assignment is necessary.
  • If an assignment is required, applications must be assigned to be granted a token. Even if it is assigned to the application, no users will be able to sign in if this option is set to No. For this application, no tokens are given out.
  • Users could log in using the homepage URL if they created the application expressly for themselves. For instance, when the application is chosen on the My Apps interface, the URL is launched. If the application is from the Azure AD Gallery, you can go to this URL to find out more about it or its vendor. You cannot change the homepage URL within enterprise apps, but you need to change the application object’s URL.
  • The Application ID in your directory is a special identification for the application. You can use this application ID to contact Microsoft Support at any time. You can also use the identification with the Microsoft Graph PowerShell SDK or the Microsoft Graph APIs to perform actions.
  • The main service object connected to the enterprise application has a special identification number called an object ID. This identification may be helpful when utilizing PowerShell or other programmatic interfaces to perform management actions against this application. It is different from the application object’s identification. 
  • The identifier serves to change data for the application’s local instance, including assigning users and groups to the application. You also update the enterprise application’s properties with the identification, and you can do a single sign on configuration with it.

How to Add an Enterprise Application to Your Azure AD Tenant

You need an Azure AD user account to add an enterprise application to your Azure AD tenant. You can open a free account if you don’t already have one, and you’ll also need one of the following roles: Global Administrator, Cloud Application Administrator, or Application Administrator.

The following are the steps to follow;

  1. Sign in to the Azure Active Directory Admin Center using one of the required roles. Choose Enterprise applications from the left menu. The ”All applications” tab appears, displaying a list of the apps in your Azure AD tenant.

2. Select New Application from the Enterprise applications pane. The Browse Azure AD Gallery pane displays tiles for cloud platforms, on premises, and featured applications.

3. The Featured applications section includes icons that indicate whether or not the applications support federated single sign on (SSO) and provisioning. Find and select the application.

4. Finally, you must enter a name that you will use to identify the instance of the application — “Azure AD SAML Toolkit 1,” for example. Then choose “Create.” 

Now it is time to find out Azure App Registration vs Enterprise App – What’s the Difference ?

Differences between Azure Application Registration and Enterprise Application

1. Definitions

Azure App Registration

An App Registration (Application) is an object in Azure AD that describes the application. It is the definition of the application which includes several elements such as: name, logo, publisher, API dependencies (OAuth), redirect URIs, app roles (RBAC), proxy metadata, SSO metadata, published APIs, etc.

You can use an app registration (application) for single tenant or multi tenant purposes, depending on the use cases. However, an app registration only exists in 1 single directory, which is also known as its home directory.

Enterprise Application

The Enterprise Application (Service Principal) object is the instance of an app registration (application). The “service principal” naming is an identity within a directory that can only obtain rights from within that same directory. 

Therefore, an enterprise application can get rights only within the directory of which it is a part of. Contrary to an app registration, an enterprise application needs to be in the same directory for every tenant where the application is active.

2. Local or Global Objects

Azure App Registration

An App registration (Application) is a local object because it is contained within a single directory, as is explained earlier in the discussion of both kinds of objects. Another possibility is that the Enterprise Application (Service Principal) instances found in the directories are references to the App registration (Application), which is the (global) object.

Enterprise Application

Meanwhile, Enterprise Application (Service Principal) is located within one or more directories, which makes it a global object. The idea is that each directory has a local object that refers to a global object in another directory, which can be the same in some cases.

3. Operations

Azure App Registration

The application registration outlines three components of an application: how the service grants tokens to access the application, resources the application may need to access, and activities the application may need to perform.

Enterprise Application

Every time an application is utilized and a globally unique app object is referenced, an enterprise application is produced in each tenancy. It outlines who can use the app, what resources it can access, and what the app can perform for a certain tenant.

4. Permissions

Azure App Registration

You cannot register an application with your Azure AD tenant or give it a role in your Azure subscription unless you have the required permissions. To get permission, check the app’s registration setting. However, only an administrator can grant permission.

Enterprise Application

In the enterprise application, you can grant permission in two ways. First, create a custom role with permission: “”. Secondly, grant users or groups permission to manage user and group assignments to enterprise apps. 

5. Consent

Azure App Registration

The application registration (application) is the actual application object where you can configure your application settings. Users can grant consent from both the enterprise applications blade and the app registrations experience in the Azure Portal

Consent can be administered from the application registration (application) so that you don’t need to navigate to enterprise applications to grant consent, but this is only for the sake of convenience.

Enterprise Application

While you can grant consent from both the enterprise applications and the app registrations, the consent is actually granted from the service principal object within the enterprise application blade. Furthermore, an enterprise application must be present in the same directory for each tenant where the application is running.

Thank you for reading Azure App Registration vs Enterprise App – What’s the Difference ? We should conclude.

Azure App Registration vs Enterprise App - What's the Difference ? Conclusion

It could be a hassle to decipher the striking differences between Azure App Registration and Enterprise Applications, especially because the Enterprise Application blade contains the list of your Service Principals (which form when you register your applications). However, Enterprise App generally refers to applications published by other companies in the Azure Active Directory gallery that you can use within your organization.

In this article, you have learned that the Application Object is what you see under App Registrations in AAD. It is a template for configuring things like API Permissions and App Roles. The Service Principal Object, on the other hand, is what you see in AAD’s Enterprise App Registration blade. It forms in each tenant where needed, inherits some properties from the application object, and uses the globally unique app object.

Read more about Active Directory in our blog here and Azure over here

Avatar for Kamso Oguejiofor
Kamso Oguejiofor

Kamso is a mechanical engineer and writer with a strong interest in anything related to technology. He has over 2 years of experience writing on topics like cyber security, network security, and information security. When he’s not studying or writing, he likes to play basketball, work out, and binge watch anime and drama series.

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